Also known as the sausage dog, the dachshund is a long-bodied hound with short legs, a combination of features which create an incredibly endearing appearance. Popular pets, dachshunds are playful, loyal and intelligent dogs with a surprising amount of energy for such little chaps!
Which breed group is The Dachshund in?
Breed group: Hound
Dachshund breed history
The precise origin of this breed is unknown, but it is thought that similar dogs with longer legs were kept in Ancient Egypt. The dachshunds we know today were first bred in Germany as hunting hounds but there is considerable debate over exactly when selective breeding began. The dogs feature elements of German, French, and English hounds. They have been kept by royalty across Europe and were a favourite breed of Queen Victoria.
The first written references to Dachshunds appeared in the early part of the 18th century. The dogs were originally called dachs Krieger, meaning badger crawler. The first examples of the breed were larger than those seen today and weighted up to 18kg. It isn’t known whether these dogs were specifically bred for hunting badgers or if they were intended to be general hunting dogs. Their signature floppy ears were deliberately bred into the dogs to prevent grass seeds and other foreign matter from entering the ear canal when they burrowed. Dachshunds boast curved tails which enabled handlers to spot their dogs in long grass and to haul them out of burrows, if they became stuck.
Dachshunds may be smooth-haired, wire-haired, or long-haired. The smooth haired dachshund could have originated from a cross between a German shorthaired pointer, a pinscher and a Bracke which is a form of bloodhound. However, some believe that these dogs were a cross between a miniature French pointer and a pinscher.
Long-haired dachshund were possibly the result of selective breeding using short-haired dogs which were born with slightly longer coats. They could also have evolved due to cross breeding with water spaniels. The wire-haired dachshund was the last variant of the breed to appear and was probably originally a cross between a dachshund and a hard-coated terrier such as the schnauzer.
Dachshund breed characteristics
- Lifespan: average 12-13 years
- Height: up to 28cm
- Weight: up to 12kg
- Long bodies
- Short legs
- Floppy ears
- Long heads
- Almond-shaped eyes
- Curved tail
- Short and smooth coat, wire-haired coat or long coat
- Wide variety of coat colours
- Can be excessive barkers
- Can be Stubborn
Health issues with the Dachshund
Due to their elongated bodies and dwarfism gene, dachshunds are prone to Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) which affects their spines. Puppies should be dissuaded from jumping on furniture and running up and down stairs due to the risk of damaging their spines. Dachshunds are also prone to:
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Allergies and skin problems
What is the Dachshund bred for?
The dachshund was originally bred to scent, chase and flush out badgers, foxes and other prey. They were selectively bred to produce the short legs which facilitated easier access to dens and burrows. Miniature dachshunds appeared later and proved popular with foresters and estate managers as they were small enough to enter rabbit burrows.
What sort of owners does the Dachshund suit?
Adorable, affectionate and playful, dachshunds are characterful pets which are loyal to their owners. They are natural clowns and possess high intelligence. However, they can be feisty, wilful and stubborn which can make them hard to train. Recall can certainly become an issue due to their strong prey instinct. They are low maintenance dogs which ensures they are a good choice for first-time dog owners but anyone taking on a dachshund should be aware of the aforementioned training issues. These little dogs do require a surprising amount of exercise and can become a little overprotective if not properly socialised.